What to Know
- The first video surfaced Wednesday showing a racist rant targeting a younger woman at Wilson Park.
- A 42-year-old father shared another video from the same day featuring who he says is the same woman berating him.
- A third woman also came forward, saying she was assaulted at Del Amo mall the year before.
More people with videos and photos have come forward Thursday after recognizing a woman seen in a viral video berating a young woman working out on the stairs at Wilson Park in Torrance, California, telling the woman to "go back to whatever ... Asian country she belongs in."
A 42-year-old Torrance father, who identifies as Asian-American and wished to remain anonymous for fear of his family's safety, shared a video with NBCLA showing who he says is the same woman seen in the other viral video. She is seen yelling at him, while the father's 11-year-old son sat inside their car, and could hear everything.
Torrance police later held a news conference and identified the woman in all videos as Lena Hernandez, 54, a Long Beach resident. A case was being presented to the city attorney to determine if she could be charged with a crime.
Torrance Police Chief Eve Irvine said police have been trying to track Hernandez down, but have not yet found her. Irvine also said Hernandez has no ties to law enforcement, as some have said on social media. Irvine also asked anyone else who may be targeted to call police at 310-328-3456.
In the video, Hernandez can be heard saying, "You know how many people can’t stand you being here? We don’t play games ... I play games where you get ****** to death."
"Yesterday was one of those days just like every day — I parked my car in the shade and walk my kids," he said.
In the video, which the father says occurred the same day as the original racist rant, the woman begins yelling at him in the Wilson Park parking lot.
"Nobody should hear those kinds of words, especially my son,” he told NBCLA in an interview.
In the original video posted Wednesday on Samantha Baker's Facebook page with permission from her friend featured in the video, the victim is seen exercising on stairs at Wilson Park. She had set up her camera to record as a standard practice for recording her exercising, her friend explained. An older woman is seen walking past her up the stairs, and the younger woman pauses at the edge of the stairs before continuing her toe-taps across. After the older woman brushes past her, the younger woman identified on Facebook as Sherry Berry says "Jesus." That's when the older woman begins telling Berry, "go back where she came from" and "get out of this world."
"Next time if you ever talk to me like that, you're going to get your ass kicked by my family," the older woman says in the video.
The original video has drawn comments from the Mayor of Torrance. The Torrance Police Department was also investigating after being shared so widely across social platforms.
"Public safety is a high priority in the City of Torrance. And, all visitors to our open spaces should always feel safe and free to exercise while practicing social distancing without conflict. Conduct like that displayed on the video cannot be tolerated," Mayor Patrick J. Furey said in an email.
NBCLA reached out to the victim, who said she was overwhelmed and looking into hiring an attorney.
After that video began circulating, Kayceelyn Salminao said she couldn't believe it.
“I was like, oh my goodness! I literally jumped up. And I’m like, this is the woman,” Salminao said.
Salminao said she immediately recognized the older woman because she alleges she was assaulted by her last year at Del Amo mall. Salminao said she never heard back from Torrance police after she reported the incident.
"It's been since October and this woman is still on the streets, harassing other humans?" Salminao said.
Torrance’s mayor also told NBCLA Thursday night conduct like this cannot be tolerated, and that police are investigating.
The Torrance father featured in the second video in Wilson Park's parking lot said he too filed a police report, but was told by police there was not a direct threat.
"I want to make sure people in this country learn that attacking minors with racial slurs is a crime. Nobody should hear these words, today or ever," the father said.
Torrance police was investigating to determine if a crime had been committed in the original video.
By Friday, model Chrissy Teigen had even tweeted about it.
By Thursday evening, Sherry provided the following statement:
"First, I would like to thank everyone for the outpour of support regarding the incident that occurred to me in the morning hours of June 10, 2020, in Wilson Park, Torrance, California. I never imagined that my story would reach so many people, and I am happy to know that it may shed some light on the work that needs to be done in this country. As a Filipino American, I believe that all people of color should be treated with humanity, dignity, and respect. I stand in solidarity with all oppressed people who face discrimination and violence just because of their ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender non-conformity, and sexual orientation. I hope my experience lends itself to the fight for justice and equality.
At this time, I respectfully ask that all news media and business organizations respect my wishes for privacy for myself, my family, and my friends regarding statements and interviews. As this case moves forward, I will update you all through social media. If there are any further questions please reach out to my two friends Samantha Baker (on Facebook) and Rachel (Twitter)."
Torrance police confirmed at a Friday news conference that Hernandez was the woman seen in all three photos and videos.
Editor's note: This story was updated to correct the age of Lena Hernandez.